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Plumed guests under flu scanner - India

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  • Plumed guests under flu scanner - India

    Thursday November 9 2006 13:14 IST <SMALL>KENDRAPARA: The Forest officials have sounded a flu alert in Bhitarkanika after migratory birds started arriving with the onset of winter.

    Precautionary steps are being taken to detect sick birds in the park and its vicinity, said A Jena, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Bhitarkanika National Park.

    A senior Forest officer of the park Sudarshan Patra was trained in Kolkata last year to detect flu-affected birds. Though some avian species are examined, there is no trace of any flu strain, informed the officer.

    Forest staff are keeping a watchful eye on species like bar-headed goose, bramihin duck, plover and the like as they are prone to HN51 strain of avian influenza.

    Migratory birds like great black-headed gull, shovellers and cormorant are also being monitored, said another Forest officer. Bar-headed goose was among the 6,000 birds found dead in a massive outbreak of bird flu in the Qinghai lake in China last year.

    At that time, scientists had warned that some of the infected birds could carry the virus to India and Bangladesh, favourite destinations of migratory species during winter.

    If HN51 mixes with a human influenza strain, it could spark off human influenza pandemic. World Health Organisation has advised all member states, including India, to monitor such type of strain, said Basudev Tripathy, a wildlife researcher with Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehra Dun.

    WII has also identified 173 places across the country, including two in Orissa - Chilika lake and Bhitarkanika - which are important sites for congregation of migratory plumed species. Poultry farm owners are also asked to report the presence of sick chicken in the farms.

    Last year, two scientists from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) Satya Selvas and Sk. Sirajauddin had examined and tested blood samples of a few migratory and local birds in the park to detect the presence of the flu strain. But, they found none, said the officer.

    Bagagahana or heronry of the park is an avian paradise drawing lakhs of migratory birds in winter.
    "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation